NATO Secretary General: there is no real security in Europe without a strong transatlantic bond

In a ‎keynote speech at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday (19 February 2022), NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stressed the importance of a strong transatlantic relationship for European security.

Noting the real risk of conflict, the Secretary General called on Russia to change course, to step back from the brink, stop preparing for war and start working for a peaceful solution. He underlined that the current crisis is about the future of Ukraine, but also about global security. “Freedom and democracy are contested and strategic competition is on the rise,” he said, stressing that “this is a new normal and we must be prepared.” 

The Secretary General said that as Moscow attempts to roll back history and recreate its sphere of influence, NATO Allies will stand as one and do what is necessary to protect and defend each other. “Standing together in NATO, Europe and America will continue to keep the peace and protect our democratic way of life,” he said. 

NATO Allies continue their strong diplomatic efforts to find a political solution.

However, despite Moscow’s claims, we have seen no sign of withdrawal or de-escalation so far. On the contrary, Russia’s build-up continues. We continue to monitor very closely. We call on Russia to do what it says, and withdraw its forces from the borders of Ukraine. This will be an important first step towards a peaceful solution. It is not too late for Russia to change course. To step back from the brink. Stop preparing for war. And start working for a peaceful solution. NATO remains ready to engage in a substantive dialogue with Moscow. To take meaningful reciprocal steps that can improve security for all countries in
Europe. And for Russia too. We have made written proposals to Moscow.

To reduce risks and increase transparency of military activities. Address space and cyber threats. And engage on arms control, including on nuclear weapons and missiles. This is a substantial agenda, where we believe it is possible to find common ground. So I have invited Russia and all NATO Allies to a series of meetings of the NATO-Russia Council.
And I reiterated my invitation in a letter that I sent to Minister Lavrov on Thursday. The current crisis is about more than Ukraine.

There is much at stake. Relations between NATO and Russia. European and transatlantic security. And ultimately the question of how we wish to organise relations between states. Moscow is attempting to roll back history. And recreate its spheres of influence. It wants to limit NATO’s right to collective defence. And demands that we should remove all our forces and infrastructure from the countries that joined NATO after the fall of the Berlin Wall. But let me be clear. There is no first class NATO members in the west of our Alliance. And second class NATO members to the east. We are all NATO Allies. And we stand as one. And we will always do what is necessary to protect and defend each other. Moscow also wants to deny sovereign countries the right to choose their own path. And their own security arrangements. For Ukraine - but also for other countries, such as Finland and Sweden. And for the first time, we now see Beijing joining Moscow in calling on NATO to stop admitting new members. It is an attempt to control the fate of free nations. To rewrite the international rulebook. And impose their own authoritarian models of governance. The current crisis demonstrates the importance of the transatlantic relationship for European security. Two World Wars and the Cold War has taught us that there is no real security in Europe without a strong transatlantic bond.

Standing together in NATO, Europe and America will continue to keep the peace and protect our democratic way of life. As we have done for more than 70 years. NATO is a defensive Alliance. We are not threatening Russia or anyone else. But we will take all necessary measures to protect and defend all Allies. This is why in response to Russia’s pattern of aggressive actions, we have been strengthening our deterrence and defence across the Alliance. To avoid any miscalculation or misunderstanding about our ironclad commitment to defend each other. So if Kremlin’s aim is to have less NATO on Russia’s borders, it will only get more NATO. And if it wants to divide NATO, it will only get an even more united Alliance. Over the last years, our security environment has fundamentally changed for the worse. Peace cannot be taken for granted. Freedom and democracy are contested. And strategic competition is on the rise. This is a new normal.
And we must be prepared.

And do everything we can to keep the bond between America and Europe as strong as ever. After the experience of horrors of war, Ewald von Kleist knew that Europe and America together was the guarantee of lasting peace. It still is to this day. By standing together, we can and will keep our people safe. Protect our core values and principles. And uphold the rules-based international order“, - NATO Secretary General said.

Stoltenberg was awarded the Munich Security Conference’s Ewald von Kleist award for his achievements as Secretary General of NATO. The Secretary General received the award with laudatory remarks by the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen.